Las Vegas’ underwater mortgage woes keep showing signs of improvement — but also remain worst in the country.
Some 54.3 percent of valley homeowners with mortgages were underwater — meaning their debt outweighed their home’s value — in the quarter ending March 31, according to a report out Wednesday from Zillow, a Seattle-based research firm.
The local rate was more than double the national rate of 25.4 percent and highest among the 30 metro areas covered in Zillow’s report. Atlanta was second-highest at 47.6 percent.
In Las Vegas and around the country, the rate of underwater borrowers improved this past year. The rate was 71 percent locally and 31.4 percent nationally in the first quarter of 2012.
By next spring, Las Vegas’ rate is expected to be 48.6 percent, better than now but still worst in the country, according to Zillow. The rate nationally is expected to inch lower to 23.5 percent.
The valley’s widespread mortgage problems have been blamed for limiting the number of homes that are up for sale. Many people who bought their homes at inflated prices during the boom era and are now underwater refuse to list them, as they would take a steep loss on the sale.
However, as cash investors buy cheap houses in bulk to use as rentals, home prices and values are climbing, helping slash the volume of underwater borrowers.
The valley’s median home value was $138,800 as of March 31, up 22 percent from a year earlier, when it bottomed out at $113,500, according to Zillow.